Minnesota’s registered medical cannabis patients will have a greater choice of how they consume their medicines. But not for a while yet.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) last week announced it is to approve infused edibles, specifically gummies and chews, as a new permitted form of medical cannabis.
“Expanding delivery methods to gummies and chews will mean more options for patients who cannot tolerate current available forms of medical cannabis,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.
However, this won’t come into effect until August next year. Why there’s such a long lead-up time isn’t clear given gummies aren’t exactly a new product; but wherever cannabis is involved there’s usually a lot of red tape. What will be available sooner however, is dried raw, smokable cannabis; which was approved by the 2021 Minnesota Legislature. That will be available in March next year.
Currently, only liquids, oils, and pills, including whole-plant extracts and resin, are permitted under the program.
For patients to access medical cannabis legally in Minnesota, they must be certified by a licensed health care practitioner to have one or more qualifying conditions. When the program kicked off, there were nine conditions on the list and there are now 17.
There was a push to have anxiety listed as a qualifying condition this year, but that was rejected.
“We received many comments from health care practitioners treating patients with anxiety disorder, and they urged us to not approve it as a qualifying medical condition,” said Commissioner Malcolm.
MDH concluded that the risk of additional harms outweighed perceived benefits.
According to the MDH’s Medical Cannabis Dashboard, the top three qualifying medical conditions in the program are chronic pain (61.6%); intractable pain (42.6%); and post-traumatic stress disorder (28.7%). Just on the latter, in 2019 a survey revealed three-quarters of Minnesota patients using medical cannabis for PTSD reported experiencing significant benefits.
As at December 2, the tally of the number of patients in the state’s program (all conditions) who are currently active in the registry was 28,595. The total number of approved patient enrolments was 55,354. There were 2,062 health care practitioners registered and authorized to certify patients as at last week
Minnesota only has two state-registered manufacturers of cannabis medicines – Leafline Labs and Vireo Health of Minnesota (aka Green Goods)